WARNING: If you are a children's book person, this post probably falls into the, "How'd you miss this series?" category. So you might want to skip it. DODSWORTH IN LONDON is evidently the third book in this easy chapter book series (think NATE THE GREAT or MERCY WATSON). And I have never seen DODSWORTH IN NEW YORK. Or DODSWORTH IN PARIS. But now, having read DODSWORTH IN LONDON, I will definitely look for the other two.
Dodsworth the Bear (whoops, our first graders think he might be a mole, and looking again, I suspect they are right) and his rascally companion, Duck, travel by hot air balloon to London. After an unfortunate dart throwing incident in a pub, the two decide to tour the city by double decker bus. The bus station is very crowded and Dodsworth and Duck become separated. In that brief moment, Her Majesty's Royal Duck, who looks a great deal like Dodsworth's travelling companion, happens onto the scene. Duck (Dodsworth's companion) gets onto one bus, and Dodsworth and the Royal Duck get on another one. Duck has tea and crumpets, sees a Shakespeare play, and splashes in the fountain near Pershing Square. Dodsworth spends a harrowing afternoon dealing with a case of mistaken identity, then trying to hunt down his naughty friend. Eight hours later, Dodsworth finds Duck happily dancing on the Queen's piano.
I teach in a very urban area and many of my students have never been out of our neighborhood, or to a another city. Many of our kids wouldn't recognize London or Paris, or cities, let alone know about any of the landmarks in those cities. I would probably have to read DODSWORTH IN LONDON aloud before children could be successful in reading it independently.
At the same time, I'm always looking for ways to expand my children's horizons, and I think this series would be perfect. I envision us getting out a world map, locating London, and googling places like Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace, maybe printing out pictures and tracking Dodsworth and Duck's journey's (note to publisher: world or city maps or photographs would be cool end pages). I think we'd have a blast. I also think this book could lead to some great conversations about dealing with badly behaved friends, handling conflict, and just life in general.
A fun new-to-me series I can't wait to share with kids.